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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 1, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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  • The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale (Penguin Classics)
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea described the loss of the whaler Essex in the Pacific Ocean--the whale attack that inspired the climax of Melville's Moby Dickand the horrors the crew suffered as they strove to return home. Philbrick's book sought to balance first-mate Owen Chase's classic version of the Essex disaster against the narrative, discovered in 1981, of Thomas Nickerson, an Essex cabin boy. This volume collects these and other primary sources: letters sent back to Nantucket when the first survivors reached South America; Chase's narrative and Melville's notes in his copy of it; Nickerson's sketches, written years later, and a Nickerson letter; interviews with the ship's captain; the story of one of the men who remained in the islands near the wreck; and "memories and apocrypha." These are not literary documents; they are sailors' stories of a terrifying experience, full of maritime detail. Appropriate where Philbrick's book or other studies of nineteenth-century men at sea circulate. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Thomas Philbrick is professor emeritus of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

Nathaniel Philbrick is a leading authority on the history of Nantucket Island. His In the Heart of the Sea won the National Book Award. His latest book is Sea of Glory, about the epic U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842. His other books include Away off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, 1602-1890 (which Russell Baker called "indispensable") and Abram's Eyes: The Native American Legend of Nantucket Island ("a classic of historical truthtelling," according to Stuart Frank, director of the Kendall Whaling Museum). He has written an introduction to a new edition of Joseph Hart's Miriam Coffin, or The Whale Fisherman, a Nantucket novel (first published in 1834) that Melville relied upon for information about the island when writing Moby Dick.

Philbrick, a champion sailboat racer, has also written extensively about sailing, including The Passionate Sailor (1987) and the forthcoming Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor's Odyssey. He was editor in chief of the classic Yaahting: A Parody (1984).

In his role as director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies, Philbrick, who is also a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association, gives frequent talks about Nantucket and sailing. He has appeared on "NBC Today Weekend", A&E's "Biography" series, and National Public Radio and has served as a consultant for the movie "Moby Dick", shown on the USA Network. He received a bachelor of Arts from Brown University and a Master of Arts in American Literature from Duke. He lives on Natucket with his wife and two children.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140437967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140437966
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of accounts, remarks, annotations, and letters from the people involved in the tragedy, their rescuers, and other notable persons, which paints a vivid portrayal of the life of a Nantuckett whaler in the 1800's.
After having killed off the whale population in the Atlantic, the New England whale ships pushed farther into the ocean to find their prey - the spermacetti whale. Hunting grounds in the Pacific were discovered and, after a year's journey rounding South America in which it lost half of its boats in a sudden gale, the whale ship Essex set out to fill its hold with the valuable whale oil armed with only 3 small boats. During a hunt, one of the boats was stove by the death throes of a speared sperm whale and returned to the ship. While enacting repairs, the pings of the first mate's hammer attracted the attention of a large bull sperm whale, a creature uniquely designed for ramming. The bull made two charges, collapsing the bow of the ship on either side of the keel, and 20 men found themselves alone, in 3 open boats, deep in the heart of the blue Pacific, with only faint hopes of rescue.
The Essex did not sink immediately, and the men were able to salvage a few casks of water, some navigational instruments, and hard biscuits (which would later be fouled by ocean spray and induce dehydration in the men). The first mate also had paper and pencil, which he used for keeping a daily diary of their attempts to survive the ravages of storms, thirst, hunger, and attacks by killer whales and large sharks.
I read this book prior to reading "In The Heart of The Sea", also by Nathaniel Philbrick, and I was glad I did. The first-person narratives really bring home the tale, and Philbrick's other book helps fill in the historical background.
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This a terrific collection of personal accounts gathered together for the first time in one volume. For well over a century Owen Chase's story of the sinking of the whaleship Essex has been the only firsthand documented account. Now side by side with Chase's tale is fellow shipmate Thomas Nickerson's account of the sinking and trial of the Essex crew lost at sea. As is to be expected, the style of the period makes itself felt throughout via word choice, spelling, etc. but more so in Mr. Chase's recounting. The real gem in this volume is Nickerson's retelling of the tale from his point of view, in spite of the strange twists of phrase his warmth and humor show through. If you enjoyed Philbrick's "In the Heart of the Sea" and want to delve a little deeper and explore some of his resources this is the perfect place to start.
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History of the Essex is must reading for fans of Moby Dick. It's derivative and necessary. After reading this and Moby Dick, try reading Sana Jeter Naslund's Ahab's Wife. Once you're done with these three books, you'll probably want to take a break from whaling for awhile. Enjoy!
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This book really kept my interest. I had a hard time putting it down. Written by those who were there when it happened, with short pieces by others indirectly involved. The lanquage is in the style of the era, yet is very enjoyable and easily read.
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Format: Paperback
I fall immediately under the spell of good sea stories. Essex is among the frontranks. Phibrick supplies a richly textured background to his subject. The author always respects his readers curiousity and interest. He presents various theories and sociological information in an even handed and non judgemental manner. My only regret was the unresolved nature of the ending. I sensed the author had run out of interest towards the end. Yet one must admit that life has a way of being existential and not part of a process but punctuated by moments of crisis and survival. One is left with a greater respect for men and whales.
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A never put down description of Nantucket men surviving the most horrible of sails across the pacific. Being a boater myself only put me inside the book and the author's beautiful prose put me inside the boats....wonderful writing and riviting descriptions...the whale may have won at first but these men showed the world what limits the human soul can endure.......
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Read "In the Heart of the Sea" some years ago, and several of Philbrick's other books. Recommend it before this book, but for anyone who loved "...Heart" this is a well edited collection of the original references.
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This true story was, of course, the inspiration for the great novel "Moby Dick". It is fascinating to read in first person the accounts from several survivors of the Essex disaster.
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